As companies and technology evolve, working remotely increasingly considered "normal."
Business owners and managers have their own set of challenges to think through, including how working from home should be rolled out across an organization. For employees, the reality of working from home can sometimes be an unwelcome surprise. Most people immediately focus on the benefits: avoiding a crazy commute, saving gas and being in a more comfortable setting. But there are downsides, too, and bad habits that can sabotage your workday.
Whether you're part of a larger organization or go it alone, here are a few tips to make the transition from the office to the home office a bit smoother:
1. Keep your routine the same. Get up like you still have to go to the office. Wake up at the same time, get cleaned up and get dressed for the day. Following a normal routine will keep you focused on the tasks you need to accomplish, and you will be ready for any pop up Skype sessions or video chats.
It's very tempting to sleep in an extra hour or two, but that can throw you off task for the rest of the day and can be counterproductive to using your work from home day to get more done.
2. Create a separate workspace. If you have an extra bedroom, set that space aside to get your work done. Even if it's just a desk with your laptop on the other side of the living room or dining room, make it your dedicated workspace. Working on your laptop while you lie in bed or on the couch in front of the TV is a recipe for distraction.
If you live with others (family, kids, spouse, roommates), make sure that it is known that your workspace is off-limits. The ability to create physical barrier--like a door or curtain--helps to remind you and others that you are "at work."
3. Do not get distracted by household chores. It can easy to get sucked in: You may be tempted to vacuum the living room, wash the dishes that are languishing in the kitchen sink, or make up the kids' beds in-between calls or while waiting for someone to respond to an e-mail.
Before you know it, a few hours will have gone by and you will be totally behind on your day. Set aside a time to do chores after you are done with your workday. Keep a tight schedule and continue to maintain a separation between your work life and your home responsibilities.
4. Make sure others know that you are working. Friends and family may think that since you are not physically in your company's office, you aren't really at work. Casual calls may increase during the day, you may get invited out more during the weeknights or for lunch, and your spouse and/or family may expect you to do more household chores since "you're at home all day anyway."
Be clear to friends and family that you are still at work, just in a different space. Resist the temptation to give in when they ask you to run errands you wouldn't usually do or to take on responsibilities you wouldn't be open to if you were working at the office instead.
5. Use technology to your advantage. Today's technology makes it simpler than ever to stay connected with your co-workers. Video chat with others through Skype or Google Hangouts, use remote-friendly document editing applications such as Google Docs or Evernote, and take advantage of screen sharing technology such as WebEx or Join.me.
Many of these applications are free and if they are not, your employer will likely provide the technology to make your time working from home more productive and support your ability to collaborate.
6. Be present! Most importantly, when you are working from home, make sure to be present and pay close attention to conference calls and webinars. Being an active participant in these interactions with coworkers and/or clients is essential. If you are not present and active, your team may forget about you and upper management may think that you are not doing enough while working remotely.